SILAS MERCER (1745-1796)
Silas Mercer was born near Currituck Bay, North-Carolina, February, 1745.
mother died while he
was an infant; his
father was a zealous member of the Church of England
, and carefully instructed him in the catechism, rites, and traditions of that communion.
From early years, young Silas
was religiously inclined; but it was not till after he
arrived at manhood, that he
was brought to the knowledge of salvation through a divine Redeemer.
was for a long time embarrassed and bewildered with that legal system, which he
had been taught in his
mother Church, and so deeply rooted were the prejudices of his
education, that it took him long to learn that salvation is not of works.
at length gained clear and consistent views of the gospel plan, and was, through his
long ministry, a distinguished and powerful defender of the doctrine of free, unmerited grace.
Until after his
conversion, Mr. Mercer
was most violently opposed to Dissenters in general, and to the Baptists in particular.
would on no account hear one preach, and endeavored to dissuade all others from attending their meetings.
most firmly believed what his
father and parson had taught him, that they were all a set of deceivers, that their heresies were dangerous if not damnable, and that to hear one preach would be a crime of peculiar enormity.
knew, however, but little about them, only that they had separated from the Church, and ought therefore to be opposed and avoided.
For these reasons he
continued a violent opposer to them, and zealously to defend the Church; But his
ingenuous mind could not long be restrained by the shackles of tradition, without examining things for himself; he
therefore began a course of inquiries, which gradually, undermined his
traditionary creed, and led on to the Baptist ground.
first resolved to follow strictly the Rubric of the Church, both in doctrine and discipline; and finding it enjoined immersion, unless the weakness of the child required a milder mode, he
had two of his
The first a son, in a barrel of water at the priest?s house; and the other a daughter, in a tub, which had been prepared for the purpose at the Church.
The son was named Jesse, who is now a worthy minister in Georgia; he was baptized again, on a profession of his faith, and is of course an ana-Baptist.
was also struck with the neglect of discipline in the Church; he
saw with pain that persons grossly immoral in many respects were admitted to their communion, and became convinced that things ought not so to be.
Hervey?s Theron and Aspasio started him from the Arminian system, and set him on a train of reflections, which issued in a thorough conviction of the doctrine of the gospel.
labored for a time to reform the church; but finding the building was too far gone to be repaired, he
receded from it with reluctant steps, and became a Baptist when he
was about thirty years of age, and continued from that time to the end of his
life an ornament to their cause, and a skilful defender of their distinguishing tenets.
Few men, perhaps, have had more severe conflicts in renouncing the prejudices of education, than Mr. Mercer
This kind but bigoted father threw in his way obstacles, which he could not at first surmount; the church priest, and the whole Episcopal fraternity around him, used the most assiduous endeavors to prevent him from going amongst the heretical Baptists.
The first minister of the denomination he ever heard preach, was a Mr. Thomas, at that time a successful preacher in North-Carolina.
It was with much reluctance, and with many fearful apprehensions of the dangerous consequences, that he
was induced to attend the meeting.
But in spite of all his
prejudices, the preacher drew his
attention, and led him to think he
was not such a dangerous deceiver as he
had always before supposed.
This was on Monday.
The next Lord?s day, the priest being absent, and his
father being clerk, performed as usual the duties of his
As yet none of the family knew that Silas
had been to the Baptist meeting.
After the service of the day was over, a person asked him, in the hearing of his
father, how he
liked the Baptist preacher?
was much confused, and knew not what to answer; but his
conscience obliged him to express some degree of approbation.
At which the old gentleman burst into tears, and exclaimed, "Silas
, you are ruined!
and out he
went, hastily home.
, alarmed, took hastily after him, to soothe his
grief and appease his
, both in countenance and manners, had considerably the appearance of sternness; and to feel quite free in his
company, it was necessary to be well acquainted with him.